Florida Sports Betting May Not Happen This Year

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A key Florida state senator announced legislation Wednesday which takes baby steps at altering the state’s gambling landscape but does not directly address sports betting

Senate President Wilton Simpson (R) introduced three bills that will be fast-tracked with committee consideration on Monday. 

Senate Bill 7076 would establish a new agency to administer gaming regulations, the Florida Gaming and Control Commission. It would fall under the purview of the state Office of the Attorney General and would take over the responsibilities carried out by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The other two bills, Senate Bill 7078 and Senate Bill 7080, deal specifically with privacy concerns of criminal investigations as they relate to gaming, as well as horse racing regulations. 

Florida Sports Betting On Life Support

Simpson, and other advocates of sports betting, are hoping by introducing the legislation they are buying time for Governor Ron DeSantis (R) to work out a deal with members of the Seminole Indian Tribe. The tribe used to pay the state $350 million annually to operate six casinos in the state. They stopped paying, however, in 2018 when then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) allowed increased gambling opportunities at race tracks.

The Miami Herald reported talks have stalled on sports betting between DeSantis and the tribe. Several issues remain stumbling blocks, including how proceeds from sports betting would be divided up.

Daniel Wallach, an attorney who specializes in sports betting legislation, wrote on Twitter he suspects things could change before Monday’s hearing in Tallahassee. 

Sports betting not directly addressed in these bills, but more are likely on the way,” he tweeted late Wednesday.

The Florida General Assembly ends its 2021 session on April 30. The last day for committee consideration is April 20.

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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